Emily Senko thrives in net for Bishop Brady soccer, ice hockey

  • Bishop Brady girls’ soccer goalie Emily Senko makes a leaping save against Hopkinton on Sept. 19. TIM O’SULLIVAN file / Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady junior Emily Senko makes one of her 11 saves for the Bishop Brady-Trinity-West girls’ ice hockey team during a Jan. 9 game against Manchester Central-Memorial at the Tri-Town Ice Arena in Hooksett. RICH MIYARA file / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 1/23/2020 10:51:49 PM

On the soccer field, Emily Senko patrols a net 24 feet wide and 8 feet high, carefully positioning her defense and often leaping high into the air to swat away potential goals. Come winter, the net shrinks to about a quarter of the size, but the challenge is just as relentless. There, on skates and wearing pounds of padding she’ll sprawl, kick and beat back hockey pucks that often travel twice the speed of a kicked soccer ball.

As the seasons and teammates change, Senko’s role remains a constant at Bishop Brady. She’s the last line of defense. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love being back there,” said Senko. “It’s where I feel I belong.”

Whether she’s on the soccer field or the hockey ice, the position carries the same name – goalie. Many of the physical skills translate. Quick reflexes. Great vision. The ability to contort yourself to get something, anything, in the way of a goal. But it’s the psyche of the goalie that makes this a different breed in sports. They’re made for the pressure.

“I don’t know if it’s the pressure or being in the zone,” Senko said, “but if there is a pressure moment, I want it on me.”

On the field

Now a junior, Senko spent her first high school soccer season on offense since the Green Giants had a strong senior goalkeeper.

Since then, Senko has showcased her natural ability in the soccer net. She shut out opponents five times this past regular season en route to a 14-2 record, only once allowing more than three goals in a game.

Perhaps no single event illustrated her ability to perform under pressure than the time she came out of the net.

Pressure was mounting in a penalty kick shootout during the D-III soccer state title match against Hopkinton this past fall. That’s when Bishop Brady soccer coach Andrew Mattarazzo temporarily moved Senko from keeper to striker.

“I knew I was going third.” Senko said about the penalty kick. “I just focused on everything in front of me as it happened. I wasn’t thinking ahead. When it was my time to shoot I was in the moment. I know there was a lot of pressure on me but I didn’t feel it at the time. If it went in, great. If not, move on.”

With an exhale and her eyes on the target, she converted. The shot scorched near the post out of the reach of Hopkinton’s keeper.

“Scoring in penalty kicks in the final was pretty cool. Whenever I score it’s pretty special. It’s not something I get to do a lot,” Senko said.

Following a brief celebration, she returned to the goal line, fully focused on her next challenge. The Green Giants fell short in the shootout that day. It was a heart-wrenching loss to endure.

But the sequence of events spoke to the confidence her coach had in her.

“Emily does not play as an ‘I,’ she plays as a ‘we.’ ” Mattarazzo said. “Everything she has done on the team has been an effort to lift the team.”

Hockey

Bishop Brady-Trinity-West girls’ hockey coach Dan Earley has seen plenty from Senko on the ice, but that state championship soccer game gave him a new perspective.

“I’ve never seen her play soccer until the state title game. She was just in total command of that field. It’s exactly what she does in hockey,” Earley said. “I stood there and watched the shootout. There was no break in her concentration. The fact that coach Mattarazzo had her third in the shooting order – as his goalie – says a lot about the confidence he has in Emily.”

That sense of confidence has carried over to the rink, where she’s helped her team to a 4-2-1 start, including shutouts against ConVal and Bedford.

Perhaps Earley’s defining memory of Senko’s skills came in a loss last season against perennial power Hanover.

“Hanover has never been kept scoreless in the 10 years I’ve coached against them,” he said. “It’s always 1-0 after the first period, 3-0 after the second, then 6-0 in the third. They don’t let up. Emily played so well that it was nothing-nothing after two. I didn’t even know what to say to the team because it was uncharted territory. At that point, anybody could have won. She made over 45 saves that day and was locked in mentally.”

Senko’s team didn’t win that day. But she bounced back, like all good goalies do.

“There are too many lessons being goalie has taught me to count,” she said. “Probably the biggest one is if something goes wrong, you just have to move on. There’s so many times where maybe I should have had the save but I didn’t. But you just have to see what’s coming next.”




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